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Homestead exemption with vacation rentals in Hernando County, Florida

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#1

I was contacted today by my county tax appraiser ( Hernando County Florida) regarding my property rental that I live in. She said I am most likely in violation of the Homestead tax deduction laws for owner occupied properties - and that I needed to provide to her, (1.) when I first listed my home for rental AND (2.)what dates it was rented in the past 2 years.
According to the homestead guidelines, I am within my rights as the days rented are minimal. (maximum allowed is less than 30 days per year for 2 consecutive years - and I have only done 12 days in 19 months) My concern is that once I put the dates down and email them to her I am admitting to participating in vacation rentals in my neighborhood and the dates. The laws are vague on this subject and forever changing so I don’t want it on paper. I’m not sure how to respond to her or if I even have to? Doesn’t she have the burden of providing proof? Airbnb does not disclose my bookings publicly. This woman just commented on my reviews so she knows that people have stayed there.
NOTE: (My garage is not included in the full house rental so technically I could be living in there during the full house rental. Although, again, since I am well below the allowed days it doesn’t really matter)

I will note that I also rent out the bedrooms on occasion, so neighbors see cars here all the time but since I park in the garage, they don’t really know who is staying and if its a full house rental or a room rental. They probably think I am renting the whole house more than it is. Renting rooms does not matter when it comes to homestead exemption. I still live here. Any suggestions?


#2

Homestead laws here in Florida are weird to say the least. How is she “commenting on your reviews”? Certainly not on AirBnb, where I can read reviews but not comment on them.

How did she “contact you”? By phone? Email? An official letter on county stationary? If it were me, I would contact my lawyer to look at the homestead laws in detail. I would personally ignore this woman until a Process Server shows up with a legal demand for your records. You can, of course print out your AirBnb rental dates for them, but I would redact the names of the guests.

–Ken in Fort Myers


#3

Thanks Ken. She called me. I didnt know if she had the power to fine me for back homestead deductions…I think she has the printout of my listing with s few reviews…although things like rates and min stays have all changed this year for me so she has no idea…thanks for responding.


#4

A telephone call is not a legitimate government contact. I could call you and say I’m from the Governor’s Office and you’d better pay up or else. This so-called tax appraiser is fishing and hopes to scare you into “confessing all” and paying supposed taxes/fines. They’ve been doing that to folks in Florida since 1822!

Until you get an actual letter on county letterhead, or a knock on the door, I would ignore it. I would however apprise your tax lawyer/accountant that it’s possible something might come up… Have him/her look at the original homestead agreement paperwork.


#5

Thank you. I agree! She was clearly fishing. I didn’t say much on the phone and have since pulled my listing. The email that she gave me however, is a govt email with a .us after it. However, I will not respond. If I get a subpoena , It will not show anything illegal anyway. I mainly list other properties out of this county so this house that is my own is not a big renter out here in the country - and I don’t much care whether it rents or not. Thanks for the feedback!


#6

Tell her you want to meet in person and come with a cop :slight_smile:


#7

Well I just got the official letter in the mail today requeting all my docs on the rental with tax returns. The letter says they can take my exemption away weather I provide the info they need or not.
The law is vague in that it says if you rent your home for 30 days or more for 2 cconsecutive years, then you lose your exemption. I have rented the house out for 12 days in 19 months. I dont know how they can ask for my docs on this anyway. Thinking of Calling a lawyer.


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